Flash in the Pan: Harissa Salmon, Chickpea Mash

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Flash in the pan: a new feature with extra simple, original recipes.

Harissa, the North African chile paste, is one of the best things to have around the kitchen when you need to make a quick, tasty dinner. Rub harissa under chicken skin, put a dollop in mashed sweet potatoes, or spread it on a grilled cheese sandwich. I have a jar in the fridge, and the other night I realized it might be good on salmon--the oily, meatiness of the fish is strong enough to take that dark, smoky chile flavor.

The recipe includes easy sides of chickpea mash and tomatoes, but you could just make the fish: smear a fillet with harissa, sprinkle with salt, and pop it in a hot oven for about ten minutes.

Harissa Salmon with Spiced Chickpea Mash and Tomatoes, recipe after the jump.
Harissa Salmon with Spiced Chickpea Mash and Tomatoes
Yield: Serves 3 to 4

Ras el hanout is a North African/Middle Eastern spice blend, which you can find at any Middle Eastern grocery, including Sahadi's. If you don't want to buy it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Plus, increase all the spices--cumin, coriander and cayenne--by 1/4 teaspoon. Try to buy wild-caught salmon, as farmed salmon is not sustainable right now. Or go with arctic char instead.

For the chickpea mash:
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ras el hanout
2 (19 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
For the samon:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds wild-caught salmon or arctic char
salt and pepper
1/3 cup harissa, plus extra if desired
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Make the chickpea mash: Over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil, and add the garlic. Sauté garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and ras el hanout, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute, taking care not to let the spices burn. Add the chickpeas, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir well to incorporate ingredients. When the chickpeas are warm, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and roughly mash the mixture with a potato masher. (If you'd like a smoother side dish, transfer to a blender, and purée.) Add the lemon juice. If the mixture looks too dry to your taste, add more olive oil until the desired texture is achieved. Keep warm on the stove.

Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and set aside Pat the fish dry, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Smear the harissa evenly all over the top of the fillet. Move the tomatoes to the side of the pan, to make room for the fish. Place the fish on the pan, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve fish with tomatoes and chickpea mash.  




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